"Reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out." (Pam Allyn)
Reading underpins children’s access to the curriculum and impacts on their achievement. There is considerable research to show that children who enjoy reading and choose to read benefit not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. This is why at St Chad's, teaching our children to become confident and fluent readers is of paramount importance to us.
Our reading curriculum is underpinned by the Simple View of Reading. To become a successful reader, children need to have both decoding skills (the ability to 'read' the words on the page) and comprehension skills (the ability to 'understand' what is on the page).
To be able to read, children need to be taught an efficient strategy to decode words. That strategy is phonics. At St Chad's, we teach reading through the systematic and synthetic phonics programme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
We start teaching phonics daily in Nursery and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Progression from Reception onwards. In addition to their daily phonics lessons, children also take part in reading practice sessions. These sessions are:
- timetabled three times per week
- taught by a trained teacher or trained support assistant
- taught in small groups
The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- decoding: 'sounding out' the words
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text
A decodable reading practice book is taken home every week so children can further practice their reading at home alongside a parent/carer. Further information about our the teaching and learning of phonics at St Chad's can be found here.
Comprehension and Reading for Pleasure
Fluent decoding is only one component of reading. Comprehension skills need to be taught to enable children to make sense of what they read, build on what they already know and give them a desire to want to read. Reading increases children’s vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Furthermore, children who read widely and frequently also have more secure general knowledge.
At St Chad's, we read to and with our children every day and seek ways to to encourage children in their journey to becoming independent and enthusiastic readers. In our Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery/Reception), we provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and Language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include, but are not limited to:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language
In Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and Year 2), we follow the National Curriculum for English (2014) which aims to ensure that all children:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading. writing and spoken language
We have devised our own whole school reading spine, as outlined within the approach, Talk for Writing
. This means that every class at has a half-termly 'read aloud' book that they share, learn and enjoy together. These are the books that we we want children our children to know back to front and inside out. The books that we have chosen represent a range of authors and genres, with due thought given to diversity and inclusivity. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects. Therefore, we ensure that children experience reading way beyond their their English lessons: a high-quality text sits at the heart of our theme teaching and learning and we have also devised our own Collective Worship reading spine.
Reading is explicitly taught through a mixture of whole class reading lessons, group reading sessions and 1:1 reading sessions. In Nursery and Reception, children are given the opportunity to explore books in small groups. This may involve books without words where the children are encouraged to tell the story, learn how to handle books, discover the directionality of print and talk about familiar stories.
Every classroom has an inviting book corner designed and organised following the principles of Communication Friendly Spaces. The spaces are inviting and provide a sense of calmness and relaxation. As well as having access to a range of reading books, storytelling is promoted through the availability of role play resources e.g. story stones and costumes. We also ensure that our communal learning environments promote a love of reading and high-quality books. We curate our displays carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect our children and our local community, as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures. This year, we are are working hard to further develop our school library so that all children can access it during the week to choose a sharing book to take home and enjoy with a parent/carer.
To support with the explicit teaching and learning of comprehension skills, we have developed our own 'St Chad's Super 6' . As a school, we have identified six separate but complimentary skills for comprehension, with the aim of helping children become active, reflective readers
- Making connections
At St Chad's, we recognise the importance of learning how to read and of sharing high quality texts from an early age and the important role that parents and carers play in fostering an enjoyment of reading. Throughout the year we hold a number of parent workshops to support with all aspects of home reading, including early reading skills, phonics and shared reading time. As a school, we recognise that many of our parents are themselves acquiring English which impacts on their ability to support their child's home reading. We continue to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to supporting our whole school community, including running after school reading clubs and recording books that can be accessed and enjoyed at home via a QR code. We actively promote visits to our local library. Each year, we organise a trip to the library in our Reception class: all parents are encouraged to attend and register their child for a library card. We are also visited annually by the BookStart
Further information about our home reading programme, including how we work closely with our families to support home reading, can be found here.